ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A growing heroin epidemic in Anne Arundel County has police there now arming all of their officers with a life-saving drug. Until now, it’s something only medical first responders there have carried.

Derek Valcourt explains it’s a prescription drug meant to counteract the effects of heroin.

Police say this change needed to happen because the heroin overdose statistics are becoming so alarming.

Heroin may come cheap on the street, but in Anne Arundel County, it’s costing lives.

A map shows the rampant problem. So far in 2014, there have been 85 heroin overdoses, 12 of them fatal.

Melissa Eppinger remembers her son’s overdose.

“He was kind of in and out of consciousness. I noticed his lips were turning blue. He was just very out of it,” she said.

When she called for help, EMTs administered the powerful drug naloxone, or Narcon for short.

Narcan quickly counteracts opiates like heroin, which–in high doses–can cause the body to shut down.

WJZ was there nearly 10 years ago when Baltimore EMTs injected an overdosing drug user with Narcon. In a matter of seconds, he went from near death to being alert.

Narcan is so effective, Anne Arundel County’s police chief now ordered all officers be trained to administer the drug–something that until now was only done by emergency medical first responders.

“On those occasions where we respond first to one of these calls for service to an overdose, we don’t want to be in a position of watching someone die waiting for someone else to administer Narcon when we can certainly do it ourselves,” said Anne Arundel County police chief Kevin Davis.

The drug has little to no side effects and Anne Arundel County Police will administer it nasally.

It’s thrilling news to mother turned advocate Melissa Eppinger.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction for saving lives,” she said. “It’s great that we save them but then we need to get them help and get them off of it.”

Training for the officers on how to use Narcon will begin later this week. It’s expected to be in all officers’ hands by the end of April.

Police in Anne Arundel County say the heroin addiction problem is a major contributor to the county’s most prevalent crimes: theft from automobiles.

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